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The professional golf watcher never catches the action. I could write a volume on Great Moments in Golf I Have Missed.  PETER DOBEREINER


    

Tuesday
Oct242006

Bamberger/Faldo Chat

Michael Bamberger questions Nick Faldo about his '07 TV schedule. Faldo doesn't seem super chatty.
Tuesday
Oct242006

Cronin on Erin Hills

Tim Cronin does some cross-platform leveraging for the USGA, pitting Erin Hills vs. Cog Hill in a battle of wannabe U.S. Open courses.

When the USGA finally brings the U.S. Open back to the Midwest -- it's booked elsewhere through 2013 -- Erin Hills, a spectacular new course in this sleepy rural hamlet 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, has a remarkably good chance to get it.

How good? Mike Davis, who runs the Open for the USGA, has visited four times. On the grounds the first time after work had barely begun, he didn't return a second, third and fourth time to have a bratwurst.

Erin Hills is more than that good. Opened Aug. 1, it is instantly one of the great courses in the world.

Whoa Nellie. Deep breaths Tim.  

It is also a throwback, a course many will find too quirky, thinking too many of the hazards -- the earth rolling and heaving, leftovers of the last remnant of the Ice Age -- were either placed incorrectly or should have been bulldozed.

And lots of corporate tent space!

Tuesday
Oct242006

Captain Couples?

I've noticed in various stories mentioning who might land the gig as the next U.S. Ryder Cup Captain, Fred Couples keeps surfacing. Rich Lerner writes in another enjoyable column:

The hunch here is that Fred Couples will be the next Ryder Cup captain, with Paul Azinger and Corey Pavin under consideration.

However, John Hawkins blogged about Freddie's recent health scare, which may make it difficult for the PGA of America to select him.

It still seems to me that Pavin is their ideal candidate because he gives good press conference and, well, does anything else matter? 

Azinger has to scare the daylights out of the gang in Palm Beach even though he and Faldo could do their shtik while promoting the event. But Couples would bring a certain laid back approach that might help the U.S. team. However, his hatred of press conferences has to be a concern. Then again, if Woosie can get through it...

Thoughts?

Tuesday
Oct242006

Ogilvy, Murdoch and Bush

In the October 16th  New Yorker, Rupert Murdoch tells writer John Cassidy:

"People think I must be close to George Bush. I tell you, I've been to one state dinner, as a result of being put on the list by the Australian Prime Minister. I stood in the reception line and shook the President's hand. And that was my total lifetime experience with George Bush."
Now, you may recall that U.S. Open Champion Geoff Ogilvy also attended the dinner (recounted in this fine Peter Stone story.)

So yes, this means Ogilvy and News Corp. CEO have both met President Bush the same number of times. Of course, Murdoch left out the detail about being seated at the same table that night.  
Monday
Oct232006

PointMisser.com

...but at least I'm not a rally killer.

Yes, it seems my post last week on the latest musings from GolfDigest.com's "Bomb and Gouge" boys struck a nerve.  So much so, that Bomb and Gouge dropped their unfunny shtik for an ultra serious shtik.

Though somehow I suspect this post was more Bomb (E. Michael Johnson) than Gouge (Mike Stachura)...

We're sure Geoff Shackelford is a nice man. He is certainly an accomplished writer and contributor to the design of a golf course. But personal attacks on our integrity are a sign of weakness and low self-esteem.

But see, they never get personal. No sirree.

And, of course, point-missing. One of his latest musings suggests that our recent posting on attacking the issue of u-grooves was somehow motivated by a desire to promote the golf equipment industry and defend the USGA's equipment decisions.

No, just the golf industry part. I think we're all in agreement that the USGA is indefensible at this point. 

His overused lament is that the golf ball—that ongoing source of sturm und drang among the assembled panic-stricken, progress fearing golf Sanhedrin—needs to be dealt with in some draconian rollback, retrograde fashion.

It's a tired solution-less solution to a problem that does not exist.

I think it's time for the boys to visit The List, where they might note that it's not only little ole me suggesting something be done about this whole distance race, but people who actually matter like Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and, wait, who's that down at the letter T saying he wished a line had been drawn by the USGA? Oh right, your boss! 

But the bigger issue is what exactly are the Shackelfords of the world afraid of? That Myopia Hunt won't be able to host another U.S. Open? That Wannamoisett is too short to be appreciated by today's players? That the subtle beauty of the gently lofted mashie-niblick and the stymie are lost to eternity? The game is a living, growing thing, and just as I assume Mr. Shackelford, despite his bleating cries, no longer wears diapers, the game too must leave behind the things it no longer needs. We may be afraid of distance and the golf ball, but fear is borne and festers out of ignorance. Knowledge and rational thinking keep it in check.

Note to head pros at Myopia, Wannamoisett and anything else built before 1960: E. Michael Johnson says the game can leave behind the things it no longer needs and includes your courses! 

In my conversations with officials at the USGA and the R&A, average driving distance of average golfers has maybe increased 10 or so yards over the last 15 years, to a whopping 210-215 yards. If 215 yard tee shots are obsoleting your golf course, it might be time to pick a new venue. An ultra-elite group of players may be hitting it farther, but 99 percent of the rest of us aren't. And when we roll the ball back next year or the year after, how soon until we have to do it again? And which of us is ready to play a shorter ball? And if the insanely easy to play golf equipment were such an advantage, everyone would be shooting 59 every day. The game finds a way to win.

So the equipment never really works, therefore we must continue to keep pushing the latest thing...for what reason again?

And because there is no need to bog this debate down with an endless dissertation, let's just mull some facts.

1. Currently, there are just two players on the PGA Tour who are averaging more than 300 yards in the tour's statistics that measure all drives. Two.

2. In the tour's driving distance average statistics, 20 players are averaging 300 or more yards. But here's the thing, only half of that number have ever won a tour event—EVER—and a third of that number (Woods, Couples, Love, Mickelson, etc.) have always been among the longest hitters. And here's one more thing, the number of 300-yard hitters is down from a year ago.

3. Driving distance has increased dramatically over the last 10 years. But it's flattened out in the last five. It's up about half a yard this year over last year. 18 inches. That's an increase of 0.17 percent. Is that the sky falling, or maybe something else?

They were doing so well there until point #3.

Flattened in the last five? Now, according to my media guide, the 2001 average was 279.4. And as of this week, the current Tour average is 289.7 (+10.3 yards).  And the gain since 1996 is 23 yards, and nearly half of that has come in the last five years.  Flattened?

Okay, the big wrap up:

The game survives when it chooses to grow.

Was that Darwin or Wind who said that? Sorry... 

Equipment isn't making anyone a dominant player. And when it chooses to test elite players in the way we average golfers are tested on a regular basis, the game will be stronger because it has the power to consistently find ways to turn back all threats.

Maybe that will make sense if we put it in the Ali G translata...

equipment isn't makin anyone a dominant playa. and whun it chooses to da test elite players in da way we average golfers is tested on a regular basis, da game will be stronga coz it as da powa to consistently check ways to turn back all threats.  

No, didn't help. 

Monday
Oct232006

Ames Out According To...Finchem

The news of Stephen Ames' WD from the Tour Championship was oddly delivered by PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, and according to the wire service story,"Finchem said Ames was home in Calgary going through tests."

Why is the Commissioner announcing a WD? 

Monday
Oct232006

"Their skills are limited."

Jemele Hill in the Orlando Sentinel tackles the "why no promising young players" question and gets some interesting replies.

"Young guys just pick a driver out of a bin that goes 320 [yards]," said [Frank] Lickliter, who shot a blistering 62 in the final round of Disney's Funai Classic on Sunday. "They can't carve one on the fairway. They don't know how to knock down a wedge. Their skills are limited."
And Hill writes:
You could blame a lot of things for why golf is the latest sport lacking a strong presence of young American superstars -- the increased presence by talented foreigners is one -- but our obsession with flash is slowly killing U.S. dominance in sports around the globe.

Our kids would rather practice a 360-degree dunk a billion times than set one proper screen. They would rather obsess about home runs than learn how to stretch a single into a double. They would rather hit an 100-mph serve than develop a decent backhand.

In golf, it's all about the 300-yard blast off the tee. Michelle Wie has a big swing and an awfully hollow trophy case, but a mighty big bank account.

"It's kind of sad what's happened to the skill part of the game," said Scott Verplank, a 20-year pro. "The skills required to be a great player in this game are not near as important as they used to be. It's really changed the game."

This is just another depressing reminder of how much our sports culture emphasis on style has hurt the overall product.

Most of us were just fooled into thinking it was strictly a U.S. basketball problem. As it turns out, it's an American problem.

You can sit there and blame YouTube, MySpace and ESPN for the downfall of sports society, but we must take a hard look at ourselves first.

Most of us are more impressed with a teeth-rattling hit in football than a left guard's pull.

This is where you wish Jemile had floated her column idea by her colleague, Steve Elling. 
Golf course designers and PGA officials know we're hooked on Happy Gilmore-esque shots, which is why more courses are being built to complement power instead of finesse.

Ugh...yep, it's all the fault of architects. Now, why is it again that architects are lengthening courses?

Sunday
Oct222006

Letter From Saugerties, October 23, 2006

It's been a while since former USGA Executive Director Frank Hannigan sent a "letter" (his previous correspondences are here and here). But thankfully he has broken his silence with a devastating appraisal of the current USGA that includes his reaction to the recent ESPN.com chat comments by Walter Driver.

Take it away, Frank...

I was fascinated, if not encouraged, by the passionate arguments on your site after the recent blowing of smoke by USGA president Walter Driver on the subject of distance control.

The central point was missed.  Rolling back distance is not a technical issue.  It’s a political matter centering on the retention of position without annoyance or threats.  

Driver and his USGA know precisely what’s happened.  The average driving distance on the PGA Tour shot up 28 yards on average in 10 years.   The USGA wishes the clock would revert to 1994 so it could at least consider behaving correctly.  But it can’t even say so because that would be an admission it has bungled its most important duty.

Two distinct happenings accounted for the new yardage.  The first was the advent of excessive spring like effect in drivers in the mid 90s.  Everybody on the tour got 10 to 15 yards longer.

Then followed modifications to the ball that enabled the best players to pick up another 15 yards even though the new balls still conformed to the USGA’s critical overall distance standard test.

On spring-like effect, the Rules of Golf already said that clubs designed to produce that effect, akin to what you see with metal bats in amateur baseball, would not be acceptable.   There was no specificity however.  So the USGA Executive Committee in 1998 made a craven decision.

They correctly approved a new test to measure coefficient of restitution (COR) but instead of setting it at the level of the best metal drivers of the early 90s they chose to write the standard around what was already on the market.

Had the right thing been done there would have been hell to pay since a great number of existing drivers would have failed.  A prominent member of that executive committee later said to me, “We thought we were betting the franchise on that vote.”  He and others feared a rebellion by the owners of the springier drivers which would not then conform to the Rules of Golf.  But if you are billing yourself as the “governing body of golf” it follows that you will occasionally have to make unpopular decisions. For more than a decade the USGA has caved in the face of conflict, and by no means only on equipment.

When the longer flying balls came about the USGA was already equipped with a superb testing mechanism, an indoor device that, quite simply, can predict the outcome of any hit.

It was as clear as day that the changed balls were exceeding the intent of the distance tests.

Having capitulated on the driver, the USGA consistently bowed on the ball - announcing that no ball on its list of conforming products would be banned.  Instead, it went into its fake mode and changed the distance standard to accommodate the new and unexpected.

By the way, it’s ridiculous that the USGA should be held to a standard whereby its rules on  equipment have to foresee every conceivable change. The founding fathers of the nation did not anticipate that General Electric would poison the Hudson River, but GE is damn well going to have to pay for cleaning it up.               

Two points: 1. It was the USGA’s highest priority to put an absolute cap on added distance achieved by equipment changes while I worked at the USGA between 1961 and 1989; 2. Nobody HAS to play the USGA’s rules.   Its position should have been to reject the springy drivers and the longer flying balls while saying “We recognize golfers can go right on playing the other stuff but they may NOT  say they are then doing so under the USGA Rules of Golf.  Take your choice.”

Rolling back distance now can be done in any number of ways.  A simple alteration would be to say that as of January 1, 2008, the fail point for the overall distance standard would be 305 yards instead of 320 yards.   Assuming the PGA Tour accepted such a change (remember, nobody has to do what the USGA wants) driving distance on the Tour would drop immediately and considerably. 

The people who now run the USGA are unlikely to come close to making such a change because they want to appear in ceremonies as rulers and get to hang out with Arnold Palmer.  The time has long past when the USGA could enlist for its executive committee citizens of consequence willing to actually take care of golf rather than amuse themselves with toys like a leased jet.

A new and shorter ball would surely be made.  But manufacturers might very well keep on producing today’s ball.

In the pro shops of the hallowed member owned clubs - Pine Valley, Cypress Point, The Country Club - the USGA would be backed to the hilt with notices that only the USGA approved balls would be tolerated on their courses.   Ah, but what about Wal-Mart?  Offered the chance, how many of the long balls might it sell, and at discounted prices to boot?

What would be the outcome on daily fee courses everywhere?  Might there be chaos with two distinctly different balls in play?   I think, and over a short time, the USGA would prevail because there is an internal drive for uniformity in equipment among golfers.  It’s akin to the monkey grip in babies. The USGA should be more than willing to bet the franchise but it will not.

There is a great irony in all this.   The modern equipment changes are enablers only for a tiny percentage of golfers.  You have to be very good to take advantage of added spring like effect.   The average golfer prefers to think otherwise, willing to hit his credit card for a $425 driver that does nothing for him or her.  You have to be a low handicap golfer to get the added juice--good enough to make the semi-finals in a club championship.

But even if I’m wrong so that the average golfer is getting a few more yards, if there was a rollback in distance the matter could be leveled out by putting the tee markers up a few yards.

The USGA has been allowed to stand pat because what has happened is akin to a victimless crime.

The PGA Tour, God knows, has not been harmed economically by the distance explosion.

The Tour exists only (forget the First Tee nonsense) to enrich its members and it has done so sensationally. The USGA, on the other hand, exists to define golf.

Accordingly, there is no pressure on the USGA to act honestly.

I do not blame the manufacturers.  They too have one purpose - make money for their owners.   Many are not tortured by brilliance.    When it comes to balls, one company, Acushnet, dominates the market.    The rest fight over slices of market share.  It would be in the best interest of every ball maker save Acushnet to jump all over a new ball, to start the game from scratch with ads proclaiming “our new ball is more like the old ball than X’s ball.”

The contributors to your site made much of the 2002 Statement of Principles issued jointly by the USGA and its partner in victimless crimes, the R&A of Scotland.  They proclaimed they would not tolerate any “significant” increase in distance. To clarify when they meant to clamp down they used the word “now.”

The very next year, 2003, witnessed an enormous increase in driving distance: 6.5 yards.

By any reasonable standard, that increase was “significant”.  It happened because the manufacturers were playing out the law of physics. They’d gone as far as they could go.  The USGA and R&A did nothing.

Driver has fallen back on saying that distance has been “nearly flat the last 3 years.”  He’s right, but all the horses have left the barns.     

I think stability is likely for some time.  In honesty, though, I must report that if someone had asked me in 1989, when I was managing the affairs of the USGA, if spring-like effect was likely to have an adverse consequence, I would have said “No chance.”

There has been no upside to the collapse of the USGA on distance.   Golf, as a recreational activity, has been flat nationally for a long time.    But in terms of being both artistic and competitive courses like the San Francisco Golf Club, Colonial and the Chicago Golf Club, they have become toys and museum pieces. I fear the same has happened at Shinnecock Hills which was tortured by the USGA at the 2004 U.S. Open in order to produce high scores.

Clubs that want to entertain big events have done what clubs from time immemorial have done when the ball was juiced. They have lengthened their courses significantly and sometimes comically (see the Old Course at St. Andrews which had a tee added on another course.)

As for new courses with thoughts of grandeur, the standard has jumped from 7,000 to 7,500 yards in a short time. That requires more real estate and increased maintenance costs.

The USGA, charged with protecting golf, has caused it to become more expensive.

The only way the fervent minority who care about the failure of the USGA could grow and become effective would be to mount a direct challenge to the USGA as it is.   That means ousting the current executive committee.  A revolt.

The USGA by-laws specify that any 20 USGA clubs, out of 10,000, can submit a slate of 15 to oppose the 15 nominated by the establishment.   (The number used to be 5 until I called attention to the by-laws a few years ago).  

The slogan for the slate should be “It’s the distance, stupid.” An actual ballot would have to be sent to all member clubs.  (Potential insurgents take note--the deadline for submitting a rump slate is Nov. 30.)

Internally, the USGA is a mess.  The Executive Committee, instead of intensely monitoring the work of the staff and establishing policy, is in a hands-on mico-managing mode.   They like to play at golf management and pretend that their presence is essential whereas, in truth, all they should be doing is read what’s sent to them and attend three meetings a year. 

Would an effort to get this crowd out, however noble, succeed?    Not at first.  But it would scare the hell out of those who drool at the thought of traveling on the leased jet.  Above all, it would cause there to be a debate on the subject. The USGA has been more than effective in keeping its malfeasance quiet.

Shareholders revolts sometime work, even in non-profit entities.   The eastern division of the US Tennis Association, its largest, has had a splendid internal fight which has already reached the court and appeal stages.

Even the American Civil Liberties Union is in a quarrel on the issue of who should be on its board. If the ACLU can tolerate a touch of democracy, why can’t the USGA?


Sunday
Oct222006

A Few Minutes Of Your Time...

...is all that's required to fill out this PGATour.com survey (if the link doesn't work, go to their home page and look in the upper right). This survey will help the Tour and their new content providers to provide you with a better site. I'd love to see the results for some of those questions. Oh well...the perks of being one of the PGA Tour's many Vice Presidents.

Sunday
Oct222006

PGA Tour Driving Distance Watch, Week 38

pgatour.jpgThe PGA Tour driving distance average rose from 289.5 yards to 289.7 after the Disney event. I would comment on whether the conditions were fast or soggy, but that requires watching it.

Saturday
Oct212006

Huggan On Drysdale

John Huggan uses his Sunday column to look at the latest bit of lousy luck for David Drysdale.
Saturday
Oct212006

And You Wonder Why Ross Berlin Quit...

Thanks to reader Rob for this possible reason (of about 1000) that Michelle Wie's agent decided to go back to work for the PGA Tour...
Saturday
Oct212006

What's In A Name?

Lorne Rubenstein looks at the tricky exercise of naming a course.
Saturday
Oct212006

Newport On Finegan

Thanks to readers John and Jeff for the link to this John Paul Newport WSJ column on Jim Finegan.

Saturday
Oct212006

Fourth Course at Bandon News

John Gunther details the "team-driven" design process planned for the fourth course at Bandon.

The course, to be named Old MacDonald, will be the result of a bold and unique concept - a team-driven design process led by Pacific Dunes architect Tom Doak and his design partner Jim Urbina.

“I think I'm not employing Doak and Urbina as architects,” Keiser said. “I'm employing them to design as C.B. MacDonald and Seth Raynor, his apprentice and successor, would build it if they were alive today.”

A panel of other noted architects, including George Bahto, an expert on MacDonald, will work with Doak and Urbina on the project. Bahto is the author of “The Evangelist of Golf,” a book about MacDonald's life.

Old MacDonald will be located to the north and east of Pacific Dunes, which has received the highest ratings to date among the resort's three links-style layouts.

And... 
“The concept to the average golfer is I believe the team will pull off something that is fun,” Keiser said.

When Keiser decided on his concept for the new course, Doak was a natural choice as lead architect. He is regarded as one of the top students of architecture in the United States and already was familiar with Bandon Dunes from when he and Urbina designed Pacific Dunes.

“I feel as if I'm hiring C.B. MacDonald myself,” Keiser said. “I trust (Tom) and Jim is fantastic.”

The design board could have as many as 12 members, all of whom will have input.

“This is interpretive,” Keiser said. “It isn't just, ‘Tom do it.' It's, ‘You and Jim, along with George, being C.B. MacDonald.'”

Keiser, Lesnik, Doak and Bahto are scheduled to meet on Halloween at the National Golf Links to begin discussing the makeup of the group.

Because of the nature of the project and because of a new role Keiser has taken, there is no hurry for construction of Old MacDonald.

Old MacDonald will be located to the north and east of Pacific Dunes, which has received the highest ratings to date among the resort's three links-style layouts.

And...

The general timeline for Old MacDonald is for design work to be done through 2007, with construction in 2008 and 2009 and the opening in 2010.
Friday
Oct202006

Week In Review: October 14-21: Arnie and Drivers

WeekInReview2.jpgAs the season winds down and the hot-button tech issues figure to heat up, news of Callaway's lousy earnings prompted JPB to make this astute point about the demise of the Top Flite "brand":  Actually if top-flite has a problem, it may be a symptom of the things we talk about here. Fewer players playing fewer rounds at more expensive courses. If a lot of top-flites sell it might mean a lot of average or bad players are playing, maybe at cheaper courses. Not my brand, but there are worse products than top-flites. For what they are, they work better than they need to.

Reader Bill S suggested the driver head size be regulated as a way to deal with distance and your comments were interesting, with nearly all of the 20 weighing in agreeing that it has played a major role in the distance explosion of the last few years.

Hawkeye: The launching characteristics would be altered since the weight distribution in the clubeheads would have to be somewhat different, and subsequently it would't be as easy to launch the high, floating drives that are the norm today. Now, if we could just introduce a limit to tee-peg height as well...

Scott S: Many, many things have happened over the years with equipment that it is difficult to pinpoint the culprits, but driver head size is big in the spotlight. We like to think of the tour guys hitting everything dead-center all the time, but this isn't reality. With smaller clubheads on a tense tournament day, people would be skying and topping them all over the place.

DAW: I own a persimmon-head driver that I use from time to time. I don't think I can hit it as far as my normal driver, but in the summer it's quite close. I hit it much, much lower, however. On courses with forced carries, this is a big disadvantage. Not just because of fairway bunkers, but consider a hole where the fairway runs a bit uphill and then flattens out at 230 yards. If I catch the wooden driver a bit thin, it doesn't land on the plateau and goes nowhere. I also think that I lose a larger percentage of the height on imperfect strikes with the wooden driver compared to the big metal one...If limiting the head size would significantly lower the trajectory for drivers then it might be a worthwhile idea.

Bill S: If you read the history books, way back in the days of hickory sticks and before Titleists people hit 300 yard drives now and again. If you let your swing speed get faster, you will hit the ball farther. BUT - with small Persimmon (and even early steel) heads, there was a cost/benefit analysis to be made. If people let their swings out and missed (even a little bit) they wouldn't miss the fairway, they would miss the state. As a result, players like Jack rarely aired it out. Furthermore, mediocre players almost NEVER aired it out b/c they could not control the direction of their shots. In 2006, everyone knows the sweet spot is huge and everyone knows the clubs have incredible MOI's to keep the ball in play. Even hackers like me can play "feerless golf" with a 460cc driver.

Smitty: All you have to do is remember Jay Haas popping up his drive at the Ryder Cup to realize what a difference head size makes--especially under pressure...The problem still overwhelmingly is THE BALL!

And while we can joke about his various farewells, Arnold Palmer really did say goodbye to competitive golf this week and things just won't ever be the same. But if we could just get them to Augusta Thursday morning...

Hawkeye: For some reason, the first golfing stars of the TV age (Palmer, Nicklaus, Player) have all seemed to believe that they would be, truly, forever young. Sadly, that's not the case, and it took Palmer thirty years to realize that. Let's hope Nicklaus and Player also change their minds on being "cermonial players" and reconvene on the first tee at Augusta next April!

ken-one-putt: If we can get the Big Three on the first tee for Thursday at Augusta next year it would truly be a wonderful thing for golf.

And echoing his comments, Smolmania: Mr. Palmer's best days were long since done by the time I came along, but no one since has had the personal magnetism, the ability to make everyone in his presence feel that he was friends with the King. Palmer, Nicklaus, Player. Big Three golf lives. 1st group out on Wednesday afternoon in the Par-3 Tournament, and 1st tee shots on Thursday morning. All would be right in the world for those 18 hours.

Thursday
Oct192006

"They’re having a hard time learning how to defend the golf ball."

From Kevin Robbins' Austin American-Statesman golf blog, a reminder that at least one Tour player understands the course design related ramifications of deregulated technology:

Funk grew up playing courses like Oak Hills. He comes from the generation of persimmon woods and balata balls and 1-irons. As tournament courses exceed 7,500 yards, Funk feels the tug of sentiment, a certain yearning for the way things used to be. Backspin concurs. What’s wrong with a tree-lined golf course that repels the impulse to pull driver on every tee?

“It’s sad to me,” Funk said this afternoon. “That’s the trouble with golf course design now. The designers don’t know where to put the bunkers. They don’t know where to turn the fairways. They’re having a hard time learning how to defend the golf ball.

“It’s becoming more of a one-dimensional game. It’s become a power game. There’s not as much room for finesse anymore.

“Those kinds of courses, we don’t have anymore.”

 

Thursday
Oct192006

Lesson: Award Tournaments To Completed Golf Courses

Exhibit #1291 of the PGA Tour's unfortunate disregard for the tricky business of golf course development was noted in Doug Ferguson's AP notes column:

Not quite two months after the PGA Tour announced its fall schedule, it has hit a speed bump with one of them.

Because of construction delays and financial issues surrounding the Running Horse Golf and Country Club, Tour officials will be going to Fresno, Calif., this week to meet with the developers.

The Running Horse Golf Championship is to be played Oct. 25-28 next year, the second-to-last event on the 2007 schedule. Along with falling behind on the course, KFSN-TV in Fresno has reported that the managing partners are trying to sell it.

"Things at the golf course are going slower than we thought they were,'' PGA Tour spokesman Bob Combs said. "I understand there are one or maybe more groups looking at investing in it. But from our perspective, we're playing in Fresno.''

One option for the Tour if Running Horse is not ready would be to move it to another golf course in the area, such as Fort Washington.

"We believe Running Horse is going to be the site,'' Combs said. "If it turns out to be another one, we'll cross that bridge. The key thing is we'll be there.''

You may be there, but so far, there is no there there. 

Thursday
Oct192006

CaddyCam Is Here!

CaddyCam.jpgThanks to reader Brian for this David Helwig story on the latest and greatest invention to make the blind shot a little less painful...for those who might get hit.  Somehow, I don't see one of these popping up on the 4th at Fisher's Island anytime soon.

CaddyCam, the first-ever wireless solar powered monitoring system that allows golfers to view a remote blind spot from the tee, removes the threat of striking other golfers who may be playing ahead on the same hole.

The CaddyCam monitoring system can also be used to see a detailed view of the pin placement on an elevated green.

The CaddyCam monitoring system is comprised of two units.

The camera unit is an aesthetically pleasing ten foot pole structure on which the camera and transmitter are mounted as well as the solar panel.

The location of the camera unit is typically to the side of the fairway in a location that does not interfere with play.

The monitor unit is also a ten-foot pole structure that supports a mounted receiver, solar panel, and an enclosed color LCD monitor for viewing.

The monitoring unit is conveniently positioned by the tee box or cart path.

What, it's not wireless transmitted to the cart GPS screen? Disappointed!

Now, wait. Maybe this is the key to making blind shots acceptable again? Granted, some of the mystery isn't there, but imagine a group being able to report to their playing partner where his shot came down? ;)

Wednesday
Oct182006

More Bubble Boy Talk

With two full field events to go (for some reason I kept forgetting there's the Parallel Fairway Classic Innisbrook event next week...can't imagine why!), Golf World's John Antonini also looks at the bubble boys and the rather meaningless stakes for some players.

He also points this interesting stat out:

Here are some final numbers to throw at you from last year's money list: The players who finished between 116 and 125 in 2005 averaged 25.1 events this season. The players who finished between 126 and 150 in 2005 averaged 21.72 events. The 10 players who didn't improve their status somehow and had to play from that category averaged 19.2 events, and that figure includes two players who were injured for most of this year. However, those outside the top 150 with no other status, have a slim chance of playing on tour. Among players ranked 151-170 last year, 13 had status of some kind in 2006 (past champion, career earnings, Q school, medical); the seven who didn't combined to play just 15 events on tour.